Synthesis Connects with Local Artists

Cuba was the final destination of Synthesis’s Caribbean tour. Synthesis performed in the cities of Havana, Matanzas, and Cienfuegos and were well received by their audiences. The tour to Cuba marks only the second time a BYU performing group has visited the island nation. The visit was made possible by the support of the Cuban Ministry of Culture.

Following two performances in Havana, Synthesis went on the road to Cienfuegos and Matanzas, where they saw historical, Spanish-influenced Caribbean architecture. The beauty of the island was underscored by the social connections that the group made throughout their Cuban experience, first and most notably through their visit to Estudio Areito, the studio of the national recording label of Cuba. While hearing talented musicians rehearse for their next recording, Synthesis members also learned about some of the great jazz musicians who had previously recorded there, such as Nat King Cole.

The group gathers in front of Cuba’s Teatro Tomas Terry, one of the final venues of the tour.

Such social and historical connections became important touchstones as the BYU group interacted with great bands, like the Buena Vista Social Club, an internationally famous band formed in 1996 to capture the spirit of jazz in Cuba. Other exchanges happened at the Fábrica de Arte Cubano in Havana.

On their final day, Synthesis met and exchanged cultures with Cuban musicians at a Havana cultural center, where later they watched a performance of jazz artists from the local area. On July 18, Synthesis flew home, ending the three-week tour to Florida, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba.

Synthesis poses in front of a sign outside of the Hotel Nacional de Cuba in Havana.

Director Ray Smith (second from left) meets a family and their daughter’s jazz teacher after a Synthesis performance.